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Transcript of a Speech by
the Honourable Joe Oliver
Minister of Natural Resources
Toronto Region Board of Trade
Supporting Job Creation, Economic Growth and Prosperity
March 22, 2013
Thank you, Carol [Carol Wilding, President and CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade], for your gracious introduction and for the kind invitation to join you today. And thank you for your earlier remarks in support of our government’s policies, particularly as they relate to the city and to the mission that you’re so ably representing.
It is my pleasure to discuss the importance of Economic Action Plan 2013 — the Budget — and highlight its importance to our families, communities and business. This year’s budget marks the next chapter in our Government’s commitment to create jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians, keep taxes low for families and businesses and return to balanced budgets by 2015.
As Finance Minister Jim Flaherty put it during yesterday’s Budget Speech, Canada’s Economic Action Plan continues to be focused on delivering results. Among the largest industrialized countries in the world Canada has the strongest record of growth and job creation over the global economic recovery. Since the depths of the global economic recession the Canadian economy has increased and created over 950,000 new jobs overwhelmingly full time in the private sector.
Along among the G7 countries, Canada continues to receive the highest possible credit ratings with a stable outlook from all major credit rating agencies. Among global investors, Canada has a well-earned reputation for responsible fiscal economic and financial sector management. This has supported a continuing strong demand for Government of Canada’s securities, making them among the world’s most sought after investments, public and private.
But we can’t afford to be complacent. The global economy remains fragile as the United States, our largest trading partner, is struggling with massive debt and modest economic growth, and Europe's problems are even more troubling. At the same time, global competition from emerging market countries is intensifying.
So there are challenges abroad, but there are also significant challenges here at home. While we have a strong record of job creation, too many Canadians are still looking for work.
That’s why Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013 takes concrete steps to position Canada for success in the 21st century global economyIt helps Canadians obtain the skills and qualifications they need to get jobs in high-demand fields.
- It helps manufacturers and businesses succeed in the global economy by enhancing the conditions for creating and growing businesses.
- It introduces a new Building Canada plan that will lead to better roads, bridges and public transit in cities and communities across Canada.
- And it invests in world-class research and innovation to help ensure new ideas are developed and transferred from laboratories into the marketplace.
But while we are investing in priority areas, we will not waver from our steadfast commitment to fiscal responsibility. In uncertain global economic times, the most important contribution a government can make to bolster confidence and growth is to maintain a sound fiscal position.
Canadian workers are among the highest educated and best trained in the world. However, Canada is facing a skilled-labour shortage — in particular, persistent pockets of unfilled positions exist for some skilled tradespeople and professional occupations.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, for example, has identified Canada’s skills shortage as the number-one issue facing its membership. And the resource sector is also confronted a comparable problem.
To help Canadians connect with available jobs, Economic Action Plan 2013 sets out a three-point plan to address these challenges.
First, it introduces the new Canada Job Grant, which could provide $15,000 or more per person, including a maximum federal contribution of $5,000, to be matched by provinces/territories and employers, to ensure Canadians are getting the skills employers are seeking.
Second, the plan will create opportunities for apprentices by working with provinces and territories and by introducing measures that will support the use of apprentices through federal construction and maintenance contracts.
And finally, it will provide support to groups that are under-represented in the job market, such as persons with disabilities, youth, Aboriginal peoples and newcomers.
Canada’s entrepreneurs and risk takers are confronted with the many challenges of a globally competitive marketplace each and every day. These business leaders need their government to be a partner in achieving success, not an impediment to it.
On the advice of the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition and others, we are providing $1.4 billion of tax relief over four years to the manufacturing and processing sector through a two-year extension of the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for new investment in machinery and equipment. This tax relief will encourage manufacturers and processors to accelerate and undertake additional investment in machinery and equipment, making their operations more productive and globally competitive.
We will renew the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario, with funding of $920 million over five years, starting in 2014–15. This will create additional job opportunities and stimulate further economic growth in the region.
As part of the renewal of FedDev Ontario, we will be reallocating $200 million over five years for a new Advanced Manufacturing Fund in Ontario.
The Hiring Credit for Small Business will also be expanded and extended for one year, allowing Canadian small business to reinvest $225 million in job creation.
Modern efficient infrastructure is the foundation of modern communities. That’s why in 2007 our government developed the Building Canada Plan, the longest federal infrastructure plan in our nation’s history. During that time, governments across Canada worked together to build subways, roads, bridges and wastewater projects from coast to coast to coast.
In fact, over the last six years, the federal government supported over 43,000 provincial, territorial, and municipal infrastructure projects across Canada.
This year, we are going even further. We will be moving forward with the new Building Canada Plan, the largest long-term federal commitment to Canadian infrastructure in our nation’s history: $53 billion over the next 10 years.
The new plan has three components:
The Community Improvement Fund will provide over $32 billion to municipalities for projects such roads, public transit and recreational facilities.
The second component is the Building Canada Fund, which will provide $14 billion to support major projects across the country.
The third component is the P3 Canada Fund, which Carole [Carol Wilding, Toronto Region Board of Trade President and CEO] alluded to and which will provide $1.25 billion to continue to support innovative ways to build infrastructure projects faster and at a lower cost.
The Building Canada Plan will be of direct benefit to Toronto and southern Ontario, where the persistent challenge of gridlock continues to impact our economy and environment. Every year, traffic congestion in the GTA costs our economy close to $3 billion dollars. We need to keep on the move if we want the economy to succeed!
Through our new Building Canada fund, we will continue to make the investments needed to build better communities — and to build a stronger economy.
And I am very pleased this year’s Economic Action Plan has already made a tangible commitment to one of our country’s most venerable cultural institutions. In fact, it’s located just a few blocks from here.
Our government is investing $8 million in the restoration and revitalization of Massey Hall. This priority will ensure a jewel of Canada’s music community will continue to be here for Torontonians to enjoy for generations to come.
As the global economy becomes more competitive, Canada must continue to nurture the highly skilled individuals and new ideas that will help our businesses innovate, secure new markets and create well-paying jobs.
To ensure that Canada remains a global research and innovation leader, the budget proposes a number of investments, including:
- $20 million in 2013–14 to protect ecologically significant land through the Nature Conservancy of Canada, whose headquarters are located in my riding. I congratulate them on that.
- $20 million over three years to help small and medium-sized enterprises access research and business development services at post-secondary research institutions of their choice.
- And $325 million over eight years to Sustainable Development Technology Canada, which our Ministry supervises, to support the development and demonstration of new clean technologies, which can save businesses money, create high-paying jobs and drive innovation, as well as help us achieve the environmental objectives that are so important to many Canadians.
As business leaders and executives, your companies have faced significant challenges and uncertainty due in large part to global economic uncertainty. Fortunately, Canada is facing these challenges from a well-established position of strength. Indeed, Forbes Magazine named Canada one of the best countries in the world in which to do business.
As Minister of Natural Resources, I hear from Canadians every day that our abundant natural resources are the pillars of Canada’s economic strength. When you take direct and indirect impacts into account, the natural resources sector represents about 20 percent of Canada’s GDP and employs 1.6 million Canadians.
The energy, mining and forestry industries provide over $30 billion a year in revenue to governments — money that supports critical social programs like health, education and public pensions.
In Ontario alone, natural resources industries accounted for 7 percent of provincial GDP and directly employed over 230,000 people in 2011 — jobs in forestry, in mining and in energy.
Many analysts say that the energy sector in particular has become the engine of Canada’s economy. That’s good news for Canada, and it’s good news for Ontario, where some 58,000 Ontarians work in the energy sector.
The oil sands alone are responsible for some 400,000 direct and indirect jobs in skilled trades, manufacturing, high technology and financial services in every region of the country, including right here in Ontario.
According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute, with the development of new pipelines and delivery of the product to market, the oil sands could support close to 630,000 jobs on average between now and 2035. The Institute also forecasts the oil sands could contribute more than $2.8 trillion to Canada’s GDP during that same period.
Here in Ontario, the potential is highly significant. Today, more than 24,000 Ontarians are working in jobs related to the oil sands. If projected development occurs, it will mean another 20,000 jobs per year in Ontario by 2035. The oil sands are also expected to inject $83 billion into Ontario’s GDP by 2035.
This is great news for the Ontario manufacturing sector. In fact, many Ontario companies are already supplying billions of dollars worth of technologies, products and services to the oil sands.
Few countries are generating natural resource projects on the scale or pace of Canada. As many as 600 major resource projects worth more than $650 billion are underway or planned over the next decade — creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Canada.
Realizing the potential of our natural resource industries is critical to our Government’s goal of jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. And that is why our Government is so focused on creating the right conditions for success.
In last year’s budget for our Government’s plan for Responsible Resource Development, we introduced important measures to improve Canada’s review process for major natural resource projects by eliminating duplication in the review process, where the provincial review can meets the same stringent environmental standard.
However, unless we can ensure that our resources reach foreign markets and obtain world prices, we will not meet our full potential as a nation. For those who think that pipelines are an Alberta issue, think again. Getting pipelines built — to the United States and to Asian markets — is a national issue that affects all Canadians.
Canada’s lack of pipeline capacity is costing the national economy tens of billions. That translates into $4 billion in lost tax revenues — for health care, education and infrastructure.
That is why our government has been working hard to push for the Keystone XL approval in the United States. That is why we support pipelines — subject to regulatory approval — that would take oil to our eastern and western shores.
Getting access to world markets for our energy products is a national priority.
Responsible fiscal management ensures the sustainability of public services and low tax rates for future generations, while providing room to manoeuvre in the event of adverse developments outside our borders.
As the Finance Minister reaffirmed yesterday, the Government is committed to returning to balanced budgets by 2015–16 and will focus on what it can control in order to achieve this result.
To help keep taxes low and enhance the integrity of the tax system, Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes a number of measures to close tax loopholes, address aggressive tax planning, clarify tax rules, reduce international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, and improve tax fairness.
Ensuring that everyone pays their fair share helps to keep taxes low for Canadian families and businesses, thereby improving incentives to work, save and invest in Canada.
Of course, there are many other key initiatives in Economic Action Plan 2013. Since 2006, our Government has designed and implemented policies aimed at driving the economy to its full potential for the benefit of all Canadians. Together, the initiatives in Economic Action Plan 2013 build on previous Government actions to reinforce the fundamental strengths of the Canadian economy.
By staying the course, the Government of Canada will continue to promote economic growth, job creation and long-term prosperity for all Canadians, especially here at home in Toronto.
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